Data governance has become an overused term in our industry. Depending on context, the main responsibility of the data governance function can refer to any or all of:

For the purposes of this column, I am going to call "governance" the body that sets the program direction (i.e., subject areas, sources, targets, business rules, etc.). Under this definition, the data governance function will necessarily permeate major areas of an organization to determine the who, what, when and where of information. Often the outcome of these questions will be implemented using the MDM workflow function. The participants in the workflow will be the data stewards. In this column, I am targeting the deciding or decision rights function when I refer to data governance. Organizations need governance for many reasons. Often, the journey is intertwined with MDM. While you can have one without the other, the two disciplines are inextricably tied together. Data governance without MDM lacks a means of effective implementation. MDM without data governance is a data integration project using a tool in the MDM category. An effective project uses MDM as the execution arm for data governance decisions, but data governance can only support decision-making when the organization is ready to embrace the discipline required.

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